MAA Writing Awards
Do Dogs Know Bifurcations?
Year of Award: 2008
Award: George Polya
Publication Information: The College Mathematics Journal, vol. 38, (2007), pp. 356-361
Summary: The authors explain bifurcation diagrams using the example of Elvis, the dog, who has an uncanny ability to correctly judge how far to run along the shore and when to jump in and swim to minimize the time to retrieve a ball thrown in a lake.
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Timothy J. Pennings is Professor of Mathematics at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. His research, done collaboratively with undergraduate students, is in dynamical systems and modeling. He also directs the Hope College NSF-REU Mathematics Summer Research Program. Other reasons for living include ultimate frisbee, racquetball, nature photography, choral music, folk song guitar gigs, and playing with Elvis on the beach.